The 2014-2015 Pāhoa lava flow crisis at Kīlauea Volcano, Hawai‘i: Disaster avoided and lessons learned

GSA Today
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Abstract

Lava flow crises are nothing new on the Island of Hawai‘i, where their destructive force has been demonstrated repeatedly over the past several hundred years. The 2014–2015 Pāhoa lava flow crisis, however, was unique in terms of its societal impact and volcanological characteristics. Despite low effusion rates, a long-lived lava flow whose extent reached 20 km (the longest at Kīlauea Volcano in the past several hundred years) was poised for months to impact thousands of people, although direct impacts were ultimately minor (thus far). Careful observation of the flow reaffirmed and expanded knowledge of the processes associated with pāhoehoe emplacement, including the direct correlation between summit pressurization and flow advance, the influence of existing geologic structures on flow pathways, and the possible relationship between effusion rate and flow length. Communicating uncertainty associated with lava flow hazards was a challenge throughout the crisis, but online distribution of information and direct contact with residents proved to be effective strategies for keeping the public informed and educated about flow progress and how lava flows work (including forecasting limitations). Volcanological and sociological lessons will be important for inevitable future lava flow crises in Hawai‘i and, potentially, elsewhere in the world.

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Additional publication details

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title The 2014-2015 Pāhoa lava flow crisis at Kīlauea Volcano, Hawai‘i: Disaster avoided and lessons learned
Series title GSA Today
DOI 10.1130/GSATG262A.1
Volume 26
Issue 2
Year Published 2016
Language English
Publisher Geological Society of America
Contributing office(s) Volcano Science Center
Description 7 p.
First page 4
Last page 10
Country United States
State Hawaii
Online Only (Y/N) N
Additional Online Files (Y/N) N